Marlin and his musical co-conspirator Emily Franz — they both sing and play various stringed instruments — have crafted six full-length albums over that time, each a refinement of their long-running interest in different facets of Americana.
The duo’s latest, Tides of a Teardrop, again luxuriates in the melancholic Folk that has been their trademark, an intimate and emotive approach that embraces genre traditions while also pulling from Marlin’s own predilections.
If anything, Tides of a Teardrop is even more personal than past efforts as Marlin delves fully into the central development of his early life — his mother died from complications of a surgical procedure when he was 18.
“It’s always been present in my songwriting,” Marlin says of his mother’s untimely death in the press notes that accompanied the album’s release in February. “I think her passing was almost the genesis of my writing. That was when I really began to find refuge in writing songs. I feel like I tried to find a voice around that time, just because I needed the outlet.”
Lyrical traces are scattered throughout the album’s 10 songs, from opener “Golden Embers” (“Loss has no end/It binds to our connection/We don’t speak of it/ We don’t even try”) to “Late September,” a penetrating rumination that works on multiple levels (“Is it selfish pride that keeps a man from sharing all the tears he hides?”), to “Suspended in Heaven,” which gets to the topic at hand from the get-go (“Mother is gone/Her journey unending”).
Tides of a Teardrop proves that grief can be turned into creative gold.
Mandolin Orange is coming to Cincinnati to play a show at Taft Theatre's Ballroom on Tuesday, April 16, but if you didn't get a ticket, you'll have to search the secondary market or just miss out. The concert sold out well in advance, a testament to their rapidly-spreading popularity.